Newman and the Engine Room

“Those who love the barque of Peter ought to stay out of the engine room.” — Attributed to Blessed John Henry Newman by Fr. Barron in an Oct. 14, 2014 column and by George Weigel in an Apr. 3, 2013 column.

I suspect that both of these men got the attribution to Newman from a common third source, which I haven’t bothered to track down because Newman definitely didn’t write or say it. A search for it on the invaluable Newman Reader site turned up nothing, and a search for just the word “barque” on that site turned up only unrelated hits.

Moreover, there’s an actual definite source that’s not Blessed Cardinal Newman. It’s Ronald Knox, according to Wikiquote, which gives the correct quotation as: “He who travels in the Barque of Peter had better not look too closely into the engine room,” and gives as the source The Knox Brothers, by Penelope Fitzgerald, where it’s said he said that as a reply when asked why he did not want to visit Rome.

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